raq: Christians receive threats ahead of elections

full_157461.jpgIraq: Christians receive threats ahead of elections | Christian homes,Mosul Younadam Kanna,’Assyrian Democratic Movement, ‘Two Rivers List.
A flyer was posted through the doors of Christian homes in Mosul yesterday, stating: “Do not go to vote and do not elect Christians or you will die.” As Sunday’s elections approach, the Christian community is becoming increasingly fearful. After a spate of killings, at least 870 Christian families have already left. A spokesman said: “others will flee in the days before the election, perhaps to return after the vote, when the situation has calmed down.”

A survey taken by Agenzia Fides, shows that most Iraqi Christians still want to stay in Iraq and participate in politics. In the election, approximately 6,200 candidates, spread over 306 listings, will be competing for 325 seats in Parliament. There are 48 Christian candidates who come in six specific lists (consisting only of Christian representatives). These candidates are competing for five seats, which according to the present Constitution are reserved for Christian minorities in Parliament.

The ‘Two Rivers List’ has 10 candidates. The ‘Assyrian Chaldean Syriac People’s Council’ presents nine. The ‘Chaldean Council’ competes with eight candidates. The ‘National Ur List’ has 9, and the ‘Ishtar Democratic Coalition’ has 10 names. There are also two independent candidates, which have individual listings. But besides these 48, there are three Christian names on the list of the Party of Prime Minister Al-Maliki.

Political activity and representation are considered a key tool in the struggle for the affirmation of the rights for Christian minorities in Iraq. This is why political and religious leaders are insisting that believers, despite the fear and hesitation, come to the polls.

“Participating is a duty, to show that the blood of Christians has not been shed in vain,” one source told Fides.

“If Christian minorities abstain from voting, it is likely that the rights of Christians will not be recognized in the political arena, and that the Christian presence will end up being confined to radicalism and sectarianism. If believers do not vote, the criminals will have been successful in their efforts of intimidation and marginalization,” Fides was told by Younadam Kanna, Christian Member of Parliament, and Secretary General of the ‘Assyrian Democratic Movement,’ from the ‘Two Rivers List.’

There are currently about 600,000 Christians in Iraq. Before 2003, there were over 1.2 million in the country.